“I knew somethin’ was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Somethin’ is WRONG here. Dead giveaway! Deaaaddddd giveaway. Deaaaaadddddddddddddd giveaway. She’s got problems. That’s the only reason she’s running to a black man!” – Charles Ramsey
I, like most of the nation has been riveted by the story of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, who were found alive in Ohio after being reported missing –and assumed dead- 10 years ago. The women were kidnapped, tortured and forced to perform sexual acts with their captors – three brothers – who has since been arrested for their crimes. The unlikely hero of the story is Charles Ramsey, a Good Samaritan who helped the women obtain their freedom.
“Riddled with the candor, colloquialisms, and cadence of a particularly African-American dialect, [Ramsey’s] description of the rescue to a local TV news anchor, coupled with his appearance, became instant fodder for the social media machine. It was not heroism that caused the interview to go viral, but amusement at the typecast unfolding before our eyes (Guest Voice)”.
I must admit that I am guilty of watching and laughing at Ramsey throughout the video, but then I began to think about all of the recent “African-American” internet sensations and came to the conclusion that people are laughing at us, not with us. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to offensive/embarrassing videos the internet/YOUTUBE does not discriminate, but taking a closer look at Ramsey, Antoine Dodson, and Sweet Brown one can only think that these working class, uneducated African-Americans are fulfilling a need America has had for over 150 years of seeing African- Americans perform.
Antoine Dodson saved his sister from an intruder, but is only remembered for this declaration he made to a news reporter: “Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife!”
Sweet Brown a woman who barely survived a fire at her apartment complex reached her 15 minutes of fame after declaring “ain’t nobody got time for dat”.
The African-American “coon” caricature is nothing new to America. The coon caricature is one of the most insulting of all anti-black caricatures. The name itself, an abbreviation of raccoon, is dehumanizing. As with Sambo, the coon was portrayed as a lazy, easily frightened, chronically idle, inarticulate, buffoon (Dr. David Pilgrim).
“The prototypical movie coon was Stepin Fetchit, the slow-talking, slow-walking, self-demeaning nitwit. It took his character almost a minute to say: “I’se be catchin’ ma feets nah, Boss.” Donald Bogle (1994), a cinema historian, lambasted the coon, as played by Stepin Fetchit and others (Dr. David Pilgrim)”:
“… the coon developed into the most blatantly degrading of all black stereotypes. The pure coons emerged as no-account niggers, those unreliable, crazy, lazy, subhuman creatures good for nothing more than eating watermelons, stealing chickens, shooting crap, or butchering the English language. (p. 8)”
Based on past events, it is hard not to believe that the old coon caricature has been revitalized accidentally through these videos and expanded upon intentionally based on subsequent auto-tune videos and parities.